Double Your Miles & Points Earned With a Partner

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Million Mile Secrets reader John writes in with a common question on applying for credit cards with a partner:

Thank you for your blog, I have learned a lot already.  Now that you’re married, will that change your strategy at all?  When I first applied for a bonus credit card, my wife took a card on the same account.  If I were to apply for a different card now, should my wife also apply separately?  Do banks look at a member of household with the same cards and handle it any differently?

My strategy hasn’t changed since we got married because Emily has always applied for cards.  Ok, well not “always.”  I still remember how hesitant she was the first 2 or 3 times, until we actually had some cheap flights and hotel stays, and she saw how her credit score didn’t change much.

Jet-Airways-First-Class-

Emily Enjoying Her Miles & Points!

I don’t have trip reports of the trips we took before I started blogging, but miles and points have given us fabulous trips to Paris, Bora Bora, India, Miami and many other places!

But I liked her initial hesitation.  Applying for credit is a big deal and has the potential to destroy lives, so it is best to start slowly and then build up depending on what you’re comfortable with. I would have been a lot more taken aback if she had said, “Sure, do what you want with my credit!”

We only applied for 1 or 2 cards for her the first time (with her permission of course), and I printed out her credit scores before and after the application so she could see the impact to her credit score as well.  She still didn’t know what would happen with the miles and points earned, but I managed that for her, and I never asked her to track the minimum spending or to redeem the miles.

Applying for Credit Cards With a Partner

1.   Double Miles & Points.  The most obvious reason to apply for cards with a partner or spouse is because you each get the sign-up bonus and points for spending and can use it for your trip.

It is a lot harder to earn enough miles and points for 2 or more to travel, if there is just one person applying for credit cards or earning miles and points.  This is especially true if you have children who can’t apply for credit cards and get the sign-up bonus.

2.   Stagger Applications to Meet Minimum Spending.  But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you both should apply for the SAME card at the same time. 

Emily and I both apply for cards approximately every 3 months, but you could do it every 4 months, 6 months or whenever you feel comfortable.  But we both don’t apply at the same time and leave at least a 1 month gap between our applications.

We do this because it is easier for us to hit the minimum spending requirements at different times, than all at once.  For example, Emily’s last application was in December and my last application was in November.

We also don’t always apply for the same cards in the same application cycle.  At some point we both will get the same card, but we plan our applications based on the minimum spending requirement of each card as well.  There’s no point applying for more cards if you can’t complete the minimum spending for them.

On the other hand, getting the same cards could make sense if there is a short time offer or to keep things simple.

3.   Can A Spouse Get the Sign-Up Bonus Too?   One of the most common questions is whether you and your partner or spouse can get the sign-up bonus on the SAME credit card.

The answer is, YES, you and your spouse can both get the sign-up bonus for the same card as long as your spouse either never had the card or was an authorized user (but not a joint user) on your card.

For example, let’s say that I have a Chase Hyatt card and Emily is an authorized user on my card.  Emily can sign-up for the Hyatt card in her name AND get the sign-up bonus despite being an authorized user on my card.

That’s because I’m still liable for paying the charges which she runs up on her authorized card.

However, if Emily was a JOINT holder on the Hyatt card, she wouldn’t be able to get the sign-up bonus again.  In fact, the Hyatt card would appear in both her online Chase account and my online Chase account.  And we’d both be responsible for the charges on the card.

4.   Avoid Annual Fee.  You may be able to avoid paying an annual fee on a credit card by having your partner apply for the same card just before or after you cancel yours.

For example, Emily applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred in June 2011 and cancelled it in May 2012.  I applied for my Sapphire Preferred in March 2012, so we still had one Sapphire Preferred in the family.  But Emily missed the double points on dining and travel and the no foreign transaction fee and it was getting inconvenient to continually swap the card.

So she applied for another Sapphire Preferred in December 2012 and got the bonus again.

5.   Credit Score Impact.  Your credit report and credit score is unique to you and doesn’t include information on your partner/spouse’s credit.  So applying for a credit card won’t show up on your partner/spouse’s credit report.  The banks will also evaluate extending credit based on information in your partner’s credit report.

However, if you apply for a card jointly or take out a loan jointly (including a joint credit card), the information will appear on both your credit reports since you are both responsible for the debt.

Also note that some banks will report the balance for the additional card holder to the additional card holder’s credit report, but that doesn’t prevent them from getting the bonus on the card when they apply for it in their name.

6.   Make it Easy.   Don’t expect your spouse or partner to be as enthusiastic about applying for cards, tracking the minimum spending and bonus points, and calling the reconsideration line etc.  It takes a lot of time and work, and not everyone finds it fun.

Emily likes tracking the minimum spending and calling the banks about as much as I like spending Saturday shopping at the mall and trying on new clothes.

So make it easy for your spouse or partner.

Apply for the cards on their behalf (assuming you have their permission, of course).  See this post on how to call the banks on their behalf.  Track the minimum spending for them and swap cards in their purse/wallet and put a sticky note which says “Use this first” on a card whose minimum spending needs to be completed.

Bottom Line

Having your partner or spouse apply for cards with you makes it easier to earn miles and points to use for trips.  But make sure that you have their permission to apply for cards and that you don’t carry a balance or pay interest on the cards.  And monitor your partners score as well.

It also helps to make it as easy as possible for your partner or spouse by managing most of the details yourself.  Or taking them on a trip!

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40 Responses to Double Your Miles & Points Earned With a Partner

  1. Daraius, if I made my husband an authorized user on my ink bold card and now he will be applying one on his own, will he be able to get the sign up bonus points? The reason I asked is because as an authorized user his card number was different than mine and I’m not sure if that meant that he is not a new card holder. Thanks for your help

  2. Daraius, sorry to be so dense, but: If I apply for a citi business card and put my husband on as authorized user do I get the 50,000 points after the spend requirement and he also gets 50,000 points after the same , one spend requirement? Or did you mean, he can get the” sign-up bonus for the same card,” after he applies for it (given that he’s never had it) and completes the spend requirement? So in this case, it would be $6000 total for both cards….?

  3. Hey King Daraius,
    This is off topic but I wanted to thank you because I just qualified for S.W. companion pass.It happens to be that I saw some other blogs that wrote about it but as usual they only did so after you,
    Some other good news is that me and my wife both got the bonus for platinum 100K and in December we did the platinum MB for 50K so within 5 weeks got 300K MR points plus there were some other good offers we got but these definitely took the cake.
    Thanks again King Daraius, I will forever be indebted to you.

  4. i love you man!

  5. Hi Daraius,
    I think staggering cards is a good idea. However, one instance when it may not be beneficial is when applying for hotel cards that give a free night on the anniversary (Priority Club and Hilton Reserve off the top of my head). If these are applied for within a month or two of each other, then when that anniversary night comes along you both have 10-12 months to use it and that allows you the maximum time to use them together. If you do them 6 months apart, then there is only a 6 month period of (overlap) time when you both can use the free night.

  6. @Pamela: Authorized users will not get the signup bonus along with the primary card holder, but they will be eligible to get when THEY apply for the card. To answer your Q, your husband will not get an additional 50000 points

  7. If you have an airline card that comes with perks like priority boarding, free baggage check etc and involves no charge to add a member (authorized but NOT joint) I would see no point in waiting to add my partner.

  8. @Neth – He will get the sign up bonus for himself if he applies for the Ink Bold. Chase business cards and AMEX issued cards all have different account numbers.

    @Pamela – What PhatMiles says! The authorized user does not get the sign-up bonus for being an authorized user on someone else’s accounts. But they do get the sign up bonus when they sign up for it in their own name.

    @Big boy – Congrats! And thanks for confirming that you can get the bonus on both the MB and regular Platinum cards.

    @Ben L
    – That’s a good point!

    @PhatMiles
    – Thanks for helping out.

  9. My wife is a stay at home mom so doubling up proves a little more difficult for us. Chase seems to be ok with us reporting our household income as “other income” to pay debt. We haven’t tried with other lenders. Do you know from your readers what other banks are friendly to stay at moms?

  10. Great post! It took a while to get my wife on board too, but she trusted me. Now, we both have higher credit scores than we’ve ever had, and we’ve traveled all over the world and country FOR FREE the last 2 years. We also stagger our applications, and I take care of most of the administrative stuff. However, once in a while she needs to make a reconsideration call. She doesn’t like it…but does like saving thousands (at this point, well over ten-thousand) dollars on our travels!

  11. I have the same questions as Scott. How to fill the income field for a homemaker on an application? thanks.

  12. I’ve been a homemaker for 30 years. I’ve always handled the credit card accounts/applications for our household. I’m the primary account holder on the majority of our cards. Imagine my surprise when after all this time, even with an excellent credit rating, I got turned down for a Sapphire Preferred card about 2 years ago from Chase because I had no income of my own.

    I called the reconsideration line, not knowing at the time that the credit card laws had changed for spouses with no separate income to report. I asked about shifting credit from a long term account I had with them. I was turned down again by the rep and told to basically “lay low” so Chase wouldn’t close the longstanding accounts (25+ years on 2 cards) I’ve had with them, based on not having my own income.

    I’ve since been approved for other cards from American Express (Platinum Business and Starwood Personal) and US Bank (Club Carlson) with no problems by reporting our household income plus a few hundred a month I receive from my new housekeeping business (We have a friend living with us, and now he pays for my time spent doing his cooking, laundry, errands etc as opposed to room and board). It’s a small enough amount to not negatively affect our tax returns and the credit card companies I’ve been approved for have no problem with it. I’m still afraid of Chase though, lol.

  13. Allen,

    I am retired and my social security check is pitiful. Almost all our income is through my husband.

    However, when I fill out credit card applications for me I *always* list our joint income. I’ve been doing this for two years and have never had a problem.

  14. what first class airlines of Emily pictured in ?

  15. @Choi: That is the Jet Airways First Class

    Full review from MMS: http://bit.ly/WOC9PA

  16. Thanks for posting this as I had similar questions I wanted to ask, couldn’t be more timely. I also wondered is it possible to link separate spouse credit cards to the same rewards account to make it easier to manage points? Or do the rewards accounts have to be separate as well?

  17. Very timely for me too! Thanks! BTW, I believe that Darius wrote recently – or perhaps I just read it recently! – about how calling the recon lines impact credit card pulls; that sometimes it results in a second pull. I just checked my record using credit karma and saw that a pull was made both the day I first applied for the card as well as on the day I called recon. So I suggest that if you are declined online, call that same day! Luckily, I was approved.

    So my question is, counting out 91 days from our first very small app-o-rama that resulted in the second credit pull for me, my husband and I would do our second AOR just ten days apart – in other words, his 91 days from the day we both applied, and mine 91 days from that second credit card pull. I am eager to do them lest some good offers expire. Should I wait longer than that, or is a ten day separation for spouses enough, assuming we can manage the minimum spends?

    Thanks!

  18. @choi @PhatMiles – while the airline pictured is Jet Airways, they are currently leasing those 777-300ER (77W) planes out to Thai, which flies them on routes such as Bangkok-Frankfurt. I flew them, and even though the airline was Thai, the in-seat control panel said Jet Airways!

  19. @Scott @allen – In some states, you can include household income in the application. In our experience, all the banks have been fine with putting a bit of my income in the “other” field, as long as we acknowledge that it can be used to pay back debt. I’ll try to have a post on it soon.

    @Josh – Ha! It is kinda awkward to have the first talk about applying for credit cards just for the miles and points!

    @Cindy – I believe there is a proposal to change the rules to make it easier for spouses to apply for credit cards.

    @Jay - Good question! I’ll either update this post or write a separate post, but you can usually transfer the transferable points (Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards and Starwood hotel points) to your spouse’s account. For other airline and hotel points, you should use separate reward account numbers. But your spouse can usually book awards for anyone.

    @Anne
    - Very nice to know. Thanks for sharing!

    @Elaine - The 10 days gap shouldn’t matter as long as you waited 91 days. And if you did just 1 or 2 cards the last time, you may not even need to wait 91 days if there is an offer which is expiring soon.

    @Amol (@PointsToPointB) - That’s funny!

  20. Hello, love your website. My question pertains to non-married partners. I support my live-in girlfriend who works full time as a volunteer for a non-profit organization. I would LOVE to start applying for cards for her, as she has a credit score over 700 and we love to travel. BUT, she has no income of her own and we aren’t married. Can anyone share their experiences on this? Will banks approve her based on our household income (i.e. mine) if it is substantial, even though we aren’t married?

  21. This post only confused ppl into thinking authorized users also get the bonus.

  22. We have been staggering Alaska cards for years. We always had a yearly companion ticket (was $49, now $99) and Board Room passes. We managed to accumulate over $100K each and are still working on an Emirates First redemption.

  23. Hey King Daraius,
    I was wondering if you know how long I have to cancel the S.W. card to avoid the annual fee?

  24. @Mike K. – I used to put in some of my income in the “other income” field when Emily and I were not married, but sometimes the reps made Emily confirm that it could be used towards her debt. I’ve also put in our household income in the field for income if it asks for household income.

    @PatMike
    - We’re working on an Emirates First redemption as well!

    @Big boy - The fee is charged in the first statement in which you get the card (since it isn’t waived), so you should have ~11 months to cancel the card before the fee is charged again.

  25. I was talking about the first annual fee!

  26. Okay, don’t laugh at my stupidity; I’m obviously very new to this points thing. Since we are speaking of spouses and points….if my husband applies for a, let’s say, HHonors CC through Citi, does he have to use his own HHonors number, or can he use mine? I have a nice little stash of HHonors points, and it would be nice to keep building on that. Same for other CCs; can he use my membership number on his CC application and still get the bonus? Anyway, thanks for the input!

  27. @Big boy – It is in the 1st statement, so you may not be able to cancel the card until the points post which is after the 1st statement. But the fee is a small price to pay for the Companion Pass.

    @Toni – I’ll answer this in another post, but in short, you should use your own Airline or hotel account numbers (you can book hotel or airline awards for anyone), but can transfer points from certain transferable point accounts (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and Starwood hotel points) to your spouse/partner.

  28. So Emily did receive the bonus for her 2nd Sapphire visa? So some of the chase cards seems to be churnable then.

  29. So Emily did receive the bonus for her 2nd Sapphire visa?

  30. I agree that its most definitely worth it but if I can still avoid the fee it would just make it a little sweeter as always.Plus it would be more fun to tell people that I got a companion pass with S.W. for free.So the question is if I have 30 or 60 days after the fee posts to cancel,as is the case with amex.
    Thanks King,

  31. @Pan - She did!

    @Big boy
    - This is a long term game, so you don’t want to establish a pattern of applying for and cancelling cards.

  32. I agree with you but I think I’m near the end of the game.This whole business is getting to me,but I will always appreciate hearing about these fun stuff.

  33. D-Shizzle…..I have a question that I hope you can help me out with. I want to get the Delta Biz Gold in the next week, but I want to leave myself options for when another 75K or 100K Amex Platinum Biz card comes along, assuming it will within the year. So my questions are twofold:

    1) If I get the Delta Gold Amex, and then I apply lets say, 8 months later for a Platinum Biz that say comes out and has a 75K signup bonus, would I get the bonus for the 75K card even though I got the bonus for the Delta Gold biz card 8 months earlier? Im assuming the answer is YES, because they are 2 different cards, however I know with AMEX you dont get a bonus if youve gotten one for a same product within 12 months.

    2) The 2nd question is the same as above, only substituting the 75K offer as being from a Biz Gold card, instead of a Biz Platinum card…8 mths after receiving the Delta Biz Gold. Since the 2nd offer comes from a “regular” biz Gold and the first is from a “Delta” biz Gold, are those considered 2 “separate cards” in which you can get the signup bonus for each, or does the term “Gold” make them from the same family and you would only get 1 signup bonus from any Gold card?

    thanks in advance, enjoy the blog, its very helpful!

  34. @Ace – The Delta and Platinum/Gold cards are considered different products, so you should be able to get the bonuses on them independently. However, the AMEX Platinum and Gold are considered within the same family and have language preventing you from getting the bonus on both.

  35. thanks. Would that also separate the Mercedes Benz Platinum AMEX from the regular Platinum Amex? Im assuming based on your answer above that yes because there is a brand in front of the platinum, aka Delta, or Mercedes benz vs. Just regular AMEX Platinum

    Scenario. You get a MER Benz Platinum Card, and 4 months later they are running a 75K signup bonus for the regular AMEX Platinum…..you would be eligible for the bonus for both cards since they are separate families. Is that correct?

  36. @Ace – Yes, as of now, you do get the bonus for the Mercedes Benz Platinum as well as the regular platinum card.

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